Light Novel – Zectas – Volume 03 – Chapter 03

Proofreader: Vaanouney

Note: For easy character reference please refer to: Characters

New Posse

An Aqua Knight equipped with full aquamarine mithril armor, rode on her bronze jackal. Mamelon, the Aqua Knight of Charnel. Her mount who grew significantly from the Mounted Race event, became large enough that it equaled the Cavalry Knight’s dirus wolves.

She led a regiment of three-hundred-twenty-five assorted warriors, comprised of Elemental Knights, Shamans, Militia, and an elderly Light Wizard. They headed towards her origin city, the northern city of Centza.

She was accompanied by an Electro Knight and a Flame Knight mounted on bronze jackals. Each of them carried a banner of a flaming monster with orange flames for hair and two bent horns which pointed upward. Most of the guild’s members thought that the image belonged to one of the Maneators, but Sierra assured her that this image belonged to another monster.

Apparently, Smoke called the red werebear and told her about this mysterious monster. Right below the mysterious fiery figure was their guild name, Vagrant Vigilantez.

Traveling with over three hundred men challenged Mamelon’s logistics prowess. She made sure to stay clear from the roads near Coatl as she ventured onwards to the northernmost city of the Wysteria continent.

Mamelon promised Sierra that she would bring back honorable recruits for their guild. In return, Sierra gave her only two requirements. Potential recruits needed Light Wizard Baldaquin’s approval and must be at least level 80.

Sadly, no one matched the Aqua Knight’s strict checklist on their journey towards Centza. They met a few high level players, intrigued by Mamelon’s massive regiment, but with just one look she could tell that those persons wouldn’t pass Baldaquin’s circle of truth. Those players wanted something else and she knew better than to give it to them.

At the time for their scheduled break came, Mamelon’s regiment broke ground and made camp. As her men rested, she took her bronze jackal and went for a quick ride by herself.

Ten minutes away from her regiment, she spotted a distressed Halfling Scout being chased by three medium sized striped monsters.

She had met these aardwolves monsters before, but not this gigantic. The four foot Halfling’s green leather armor was torn apart, and his life bar displayed (10,291/60,000 HP).

Mamelon reflexively galloped for the desert monsters. She equipped her Charnel lance, a lengthy aquamarine lance which glistened with water.

Still ten-meters away from the monsters, Mamelon performed three jabs with her watery lance. Each attack released an Aqueous Spike out from her lance.

Mamelon’s Aqueous Spikes blasted the aardwolves away from the injured Scout and stunned them. Her bronze jackal pounced over the nearest aardwolf as she thrust her Charnel lance into the beast and killed it.

The two other aardwolves regained consciousness and ran for their lives.

“Jackol, don’t let them escape.”

Her bronze jackal mount responded and ran at top speed. She released another set of Aqueous Spikes and caught one of them.

As Jackol ran after the last monster who escaped, Mamelon leapt off from her mount and stabbed the stunned aardwolf with her Charnel lance.

Jackol caught the aardwolf’s back side and dragged the monster down to the ground. The bronze jackal gnashed on the aardwolf’s neck and ripped its throat off.

After the bloodied Jackol killed the aardwolf, it dragged the lifeless corpse of the monster back to its master. The bronze jackal laid down the aardwolf as its body disappeared.

+ Acquired aardwolf pelt
+ Acquired aardwolf fangs

Mamelon gathered the loot from the three beasts and went back to the injured Scout. She dismounted from her bronze jackal when she reached the Scout.

She went near the Halfling and asked him. “Are you alright?”

“Aardwolves everywhere… We thought we could do it… Louche said that it was a piece of cake…” Rambled the Halfing.

Mamelon slapped the hysterical Scout with her aquamarine glove. “Hey, snap out of it. You’re safe now.”

She stared into the Halfling’s terrified eyes. It took him five seconds until he could speak.

“Thank you… I would have died if you weren’t here…” he spoke with great difficulty, “But my friends… I don’t think they made out alive.”

The Aqua Knight smiled as the Scout slowly regained his senses, but a second later her eyebrows crossed as she worried about his companions.

“Friends? Where are they?” Mamelon asked.

Mamelon held a secret known only to her friends in real life. Her sound judgment eludes her whenever the situation involved allies and comrades.

“Umm… I’m not sure. Ten of us took on a Level C Quest, to defend Ennui village two days ago.”

Mamelon took out her canteen of water and gave it to the Halfling. He finished the whole canteen in three gulps before he went on.

“We successfully defended the village, but it turned out to be a series quest.” Earat lamented.

“The next part of the quest was to find a way to stop the aardwolves from returning. So, Louche proposed to go and hunt beasts in their den. Now, I don’t know how my friends are doing…”

When she heard about his friends, she instantly wanted to rescue them without any consideration that this could be a trap.

“Why don’t you give them a call, and check if they’re still alive?”

“Right, right. I’ll do that now. By the way, my name is Earat.”

The Aqua Knight shook his hands and said. “I’m Mamelon.”

As the Scout called his companions, so did the Aqua Knight. She called her two second in commands, the Elemental Knights, Virer and Courant.

“Virer, Courant, I need you to bring the regiment to my location.”

“Why? Courant, check where she’s at?” Virer asked.

“Not far, but she’s way off the path to Centza. Mamelon, if we go there and do this wild crusade, we’ll be delayed by at least a couple of hours.”

Mamelon liked her two friends in real life, but they always gave her a hard time.

“Come on, this is important. I need your help now. I’ll expect you to be here in less than ten minutes, okay?”

She dropped the call before they could give any more excuses. She turned to face Earat as he finished his call as well.

“So? Are they alive?” Mamelon asked.

“They are! I couldn’t believe it myself.” Earat beamed as he spoke.

“They’ve given me their location, but I don’t think we could do anything for them. They said that at least a five hundred aardwolves had cornered them.”

Mamelon smiled. “A five hundred, huh? Sounds like they’ll give us some challenge. This could be fun.”

When she finished talking, she snickered after she perceived Earat’s muddled expression.

As they waited, Mamelon removed her helmet and revealed a petite freckled face. She explained that her companions would arrive soon, but Earat remained mesmerized by her innocent beauty.

The Aqua Knight interviewed the Scout about how they were placed into such a predicament, but Earat answered her with a blank expression.

She felt self-conscious as his eyes scrutinized her face and body. Suddenly, Earat asked her. “Do you really look like that in real life?”

Mamelon looked confused and said. “Huh? Look like what?”

“Umm, nothing. So, as I was saying. Louche said that they’ve currently barricaded themselves a cave with a bunch of rocks.”

She nodded as she listened.

“So, Mamelon, just how many are your companions? From the way you handled those aardwolves, I know that you must be at least Level 100, but if there’s only five of you then I don’t think that would be enough to save my friends.”

Before Mamelon could answer his question, a cloud of dust appeared over the horizon.

“I didn’t know sandstorms were rampant in this area?” asked a troubled Earat.

There were two reasons why Mamelon considered helping Earat. First, because his aura gave her a positive vibe. Second, because whether Earat prepared a trap or not, she had a regiment of over three hundred men at her disposal.

“That’s not a sandstorm. Those are my companions.”

As her regiment of three-hundred-twenty-five men arrived, Mamelon grinned once more as she watched Earat’s astonished face.

* * * * * * 

Mamelon and her men arrived one kilometer away from Earat’s given coordinates. She asked Baldaquin whether he could create a Scoped Vision of their intended location.

The Light Wizard took out a marble tablet. He inscribed a magic circle on it and chanted the words “Teletrone Visione”. Then, the tablet’s screen displayed the five-hundred aardwolves camped outside of the blocked cave.

Mamelon saw the shaded grass patches, the hollowed tree trunks, and the small stream that ran across the entire place. After careful observation she concluded that this place was the aardwolves open den.

She looked at her men and Earat, and said. “I think the aardwolves must have lured them here. These monsters are smarter than the ones we’ve previously encountered.”

“So, what’s the plan? Attack from two sides? Or do we just ram straight at ’em?” Virer asked.

“I vote for the simultaneous attacks. I like its symmetrical advantage. We disorient them and divide their attention.” Courant added.

Mamelon looked at Earat, and asked his opinion.

“What about you? What do you think?”

“Don’t look at me. I’ve never been in a battle of this magnitude. The largest skirmish I’ve been in, involved only twenty people, and that was fifteen of us versus five of them.”

“Alright, why don’t we go for broke. I also want to see the Bowed Fishermen’s attack power.”

She looked to her two second-in-commands and said.

“Courant, gather your division of a hundred men and take the left side. Virer, you do the same on the right. I’ll take the center.”

“For our battle formations. It’ll be Knights then Shamans then Bowed Fishermen, I presume?” Courant asked.

“Yes, and make sure that we don’t have any casualties. I promised Sierra that I’d increase our guild.” stated Mamelon.

“Are you sure it’s Sierra that you’re worried about, and not a certain Flame Knight?” jived Virer.

“Hmmp. Why would I care about what you think?” Mamelon answered back and briskly walked towards her bronze jackal.

“I’m not talking about me, you ninny. I’m talking about Ilad. Argh! Come on, Courant. Let’s just finish this already.” said an annoyed Virer.

“You know you deserved that, right?” Courant said to Virer as they walked towards their own mounts.

Each attack division comprised of eighty Bowed Fishermen, twenty Iron Knights, five Shamans, and three Elemental Knights. They gathered in their designated locations and waited for further instructions.

With all three attack divisions in place, Mamelon signaled the start of the aardwolves slaughter. Virer and Courant’s sides attacked together.

The resting aardwolves were taken by surprise. The beasts howled as they warned their kin for invaders. A series of howls echoed throughout the monsters’ open den.

Virer and Courant performed their roles admirably. The Iron Knights banged their weapons against their shields and created an irritating noise which taunted the aardwolves into a frenzy.

The monsters’ attention were solely focused on the Knights, and allowed the Bowed Fishermen to release their arrows at their own leisure.

It took twenty arrows for a sole aardwolf to die, and the Bowed Fishermen coordinated their attacks well. Shamans diligently healed the tanking Iron Knights with Shallow Heal while they blessed the Bowed Fishermen’s arrows with Lesser Fire Enchantment. The specialized Fishermen’s Bow Fishing ability gradually gained experience as they continued on with their attacks.

As Virer and Courant’s attack division fought against the aardwolves, Mamelon’s men laid dormant and camouflaged. She waited for the right moment to strike.

Five minutes into the battle, and the two Elemental Knights’ divisions killed a total of sixty aardwolves. Yet, after their successful attack, the two divisions slowly retreated by twenty-meters.

The Aqua Knight snickered as the aardwolves took advantage of their gained footing and pushed her army back even further apart. Little did the beasts know that this was her intention from the start.

Mamelon’s lieutenants created a gap as they retreated from the divided pack of aardwolves. When the distance between the monsters became fifty-meters, she raised her Charnel lance into the air and yelled. “Charge!”

Her division of 125 men and women ran out from their hiding places, straight into the gap between the two divided aardwolves pack.

Mamelon’s Bowed Fishermen used their advantageous position and attacked the exposed backsides of the aardwolves. They dealt twice their normal damage and even got in some critical hits.

The third division’s sudden attack confused the rampaging aardwolves. Mamelon’s Iron Knights not only defended their division but played a more offensive role.

They used their shields to push back the aardwolves who turned to face them and then pierced the striped monsters with their long spears.

The aardwolves who changed position to defend against the Aqua Knight’s strike force were targeted by Courant and Virer’s Bowed Fishermen. Painful back attacks came for the beasts no matter where the monsters faced. With Mamelon’s complete strategy in play, it took them ten minutes to wipe out the 500 striped monsters.

As Mamelon’s men collected the aardwolve’s loot, she asked Earat to lead them to his friends’ barricaded cave. When they got to the entrance of the blocked cave and removed the rocks, they were greeted with an empty cave instead of finding Earat’s friends.

“Well, where are they?” Mamelon asked.

“Louche said that they were bored with waiting. So, they logged out for a while. They’ll be back soon.”

Courant and Virer exchanged suspicious looks. Before they could say anything, Earat called out the Aqua Knight and grabbed Mamelon’s attention.

“We could wait for them here or we could go to the village that gave us this subjugation quest.”

“Sure, why not? I’d also like to get some supplies for my men.”

As they walked out of the cave a Sonstwelter appeared out of thin air. It was a Rogue Halfing equipped with brown leather armor, studded with black metal spikes.

“Earat, you really did it,” said the Rogue.

“Louche! Great timing, bud.” The Scout turned to Mamelon and her lieutenants.

“Everyone, I’d like you to meet, Louche.”

“Thanks for wiping out the aardwolves for us. The name’s Louche. Nice to meet you all.” The Rogue then gave a dramatic bow.

“Looks like it’s just me who’s logged back in time. Were you guys headed to Ennui village?” Louche asked.

“Yes, we were.” Virer answered sternly.

“Great! Mind if I join you guys? I’ll just send my friends a message to come to Ennui village when they’re back.” stated Louche chummily.

“Actually, I do.” The Flame Knight shot back.

Virer pulled Mamelon and Courant to a corner and whispered to them.

“I don’t trust these guys. They seem really suspicious.”

“I dunno? I’m not getting a bad vibe from them.” Courant chimed in.

“Virer, would you feel better if we asked Baldaquin to test them with the Circle of Truth?” Mamelon asked.

The Flame Knight nodded. The Light Wizard, Baldaquin, inscribed a casting circle inside the cave. Virer didn’t allow the Halflings to step out without getting tested.

When Baldaquin finished the casting circle, he asked the two men in question to step inside it. The elderly Light Wizard then placed his hands on the casting circle and said.

“Just a reminder, there are consequences if you don’t answer a yes or a no. Now, let’s begin.”

Then, the casting circle of truth was engulfed in a bright white light.

“Do you have any hidden agenda towards Mamelon and her men?”

“No, of course not. We’re just happy that she helped people that she didn’t know.”

As soon as Earat finished his answer the casting circle of truth turned green, but an electric bolt attacked the two men inside. They were electrocuted for 10,000 damage points each.

Virer and Courant laughed hard. They always amused themselves with the people who couldn’t follow Baldaquin’s instruction. Partly because they were once victims themselves.

The elderly Light Wizard’s wrinkles contracted. Mamelon clearly heard his irritation as he reminded Earat and Louche once more.

“Tsk. Like I said, limit your answers to yes or no. Do you understand?”

Both of them answered. “Yes, yes, yes, yes.”

This time, the casting circle of truth turned green without the electric shocks.

Baldaquin proceeded to ask more questions about their identities and intentions. All of which they passed with green colors. He nodded at Mamelon which meant that they passed his questions, but Virer had one last question for them.

“Do you know anything about Smoke’s guild?”

Both Earat and Louche looked at each other and answered at the same time.

“Smoke? The famous DarkElf? I didn’t know he had a guild.”

Earat answered which made the casting circle of truth, lit up with green electricity and electrocuted them for one last time.

As both of them passed Baldaquin’s questions, Mamelon agreed to go with them to Ennui village.

They only traveled for an hour to get to a barren land with hundreds of excavated holes. She observed that there were pickaxes and carts full of dirt near the holes.

Ten more minutes and they saw a settlement with less than twenty small wooden huts. She wondered why the Halfling had taken them there.

As she was about to ask why Earat, a notification window popped up.

 + Entered The rundown Village of Ennui

    Formerly a gold mining village. It used to hold up to 2,000 residents. Until a horde of aardwolves came and plagued them. This village currently has a population of thirty.

Mamelon saw Louche head for the hut in the center. A muscular, middle aged woman came out and greeted the Rogue.

“Greetings, Elder Tapang. My Friends and I have done the impossible. We’ve slain all 500 aardwolves.”

Louche said as he pointed to Mamelon and her 325 men.

“Are you sure?” Tapang doubtfully asked.

Mamelon called for her regiment to display their loot. Her men laid out 308 aardwolf pelts, 402 aardwolf fangs, and 392 aardwolf claws which they collected earlier.

“Praise Cuezaltzin! As agreed upon, let me reward you with these three Gold Divination Rods and six gold nuggets. With the aardwolves gone, I’m sure we could revive this village in no time.”

Louche hurriedly grabbed the rewards, but Earat pulled him back. He then turned to Mamelon and said.

“You should get the reward. We may have started the quest, but there’s no way we could have finished it without your help. Although, I do hope you remember that we did defend this village and start this quest.”

“Wait, what? Oh, hells no!” Cried out the Rogue.

Mamelon smiled as Louche profusely protested.

“Thanks, Earat, but Louche is right. You guys deserve this reward. Although, I wouldn’t mind if you could spare us one of the Gold Divination Rods and one nugget?”

“Yeah, sure. Let’s go with that.” Louche quickly answered.

Mamelon received their share of the quest reward. Before they could leave, Earat stopped her for one last question.

“Do you think we could join your guild?”

* * * * * * 

After Smoke settled the misunderstanding with the Centaurs, he secretly called Ichaival and Espion and asked them to follow him from a safe distance. Although, the Centaurs stopped the attack, Smoke wouldn’t take the chance of placing Ichaival and Espion in danger.

His new found friends, aged twenty to twenty-eight, were their village’s leaders in training. Smoke and the Centaurs journeyed back to their home village of Pferde.

Since Smoke could glide, Rudel suggested that they fly to his village while the rest of the Centaurs follow them on the ground.

Igniz orbited around Smoke as they flew. During their flight, Smoke kept on staring at Rudel’s two massive wings. The white feathered wings spread wide at a wingspan of eight-meters, from Rudel’s horse half.

“From the looks of it, I guess you’ve never seen a Volataur?” Rudel asked.

Smoke struggled with the wind resistance from their flight, but he shook his head and answered. “No, never. I’ve never even heard of a Volataur.”

On the other hand, Rudel spoke with ease. The wind pressure did not bother him at all.

“That makes sense. There’s only one in a thousand Centaurs that are born to be Volataurs, because of this we’re given the right to be the village elder.”

“So you’re the village elder at Pferde?” Smoke asked.

“No, no. Our current elder is called Deropa, but I’m next in line after he dies. There’s only three Volataurs in Pferde at the moment.”

“That’s good to hear.” said Smoke.

Smoke’s mind began to scheme on how to make the Centaurs into their allies against Duke Burmistrz.

He was distracted from his thoughts when the Volataur asked him a question.

“By the way, I’d like to ask how you managed to keep up with me when we fought using Earth Manipulation. I’ve never seen anyone last as long as you.”

“Hmm. Let me check. Status Window.”

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Character: Smoke Level: 102 Job: Beggar
Race: DarkElf Alignment: Neutral Money: 20,000,000 zecs
Fame: 887 Titles:  (+ to all stats)
Condortl Savior (+2)
5th Swordsman To Knight (+1)
King of Maneators (+4)
Pet: None
Life: 165, 850 HP Mana: 192,991 MP
DEX: 605(+27) STR: 145(+27) AGI: 30 (+517)
VIT: 10 (+104) INT: 140(+37) Wisdom: 90 (+37)
Leadership: 100 (+7) Charisma: 25 (+7) Luck: 999
Attack Speed:25(+71) Movement Speed:65(+15) Defense:2,513(1/4)
Power Chainsaw Bow: 135-148(1/4) Attack: 7,825-8,579 (1/4)
Chain & Sickle of Dasende: 272-284(1/4) Attack: 15,766-16,462 (1/4)
Elemental Resistance: Elemental Affinity:
Fire:       85%
Dark:     60%
Poison: 44%
Wind:    20%
Water:   20%
Earth:    20%
Lightining: 20%
Fire:            75%
Earth:         60%
Poison:       20%
Wind:         25%
Lightning: 5%
Equipment Effects: (1/4)
*Hooded Cape of Cologus
    +20% Earth Affinity, +20% Wind Affinity,
    +20Strength, +20 Dexterity

*Claws of Chiropterra
     +15% Earth Affinity

*Heart of ReenTe
   +30 Vitality

*Sable Wizard’s Surcoat
    +510 Defense, +10% All Resistance, + 15% Bonus EXP

* Lunar Gravity Boots
    +15 Move speed

* Wise Ring of  the Dire Fox
    +30 Intelligence, +30 Wisdom

*Beggar Belt [1 stone]

Skill Effects:
* Agility of the Horned Rabbit (Agility + 510)

* Cooking (Vitality + 67)

* Dual Wield (Attack Speed + 71)

* Knife Mastery (Knife Damage + 66%)

* Bow Mastery (Bow Damage + 84%)

“I have over 190,000 Mana. Maybe that’s the reason why I could keep up?” said Smoke with uncertainty.

“Hmm, that is sort of high.” Rudel looked unconvinced. “What about your Mana regen?”

Smoke happily obliged him because he wanted full intimacy points with the future Elder of Pferde village.

“Alright, let me check that too. Regen Window.”

HP Regen:    14/second
MP Regen:  100/second

“One hundred Mana per second?” Rudel replied in disbelief. “But your HP regen is really low. I’m guessing you focused your stat growth on, Intelligence?”

“Yes, I did, but now I’m growing my Wisdom.” Smoke replied.

“And what about this dark ember sprite? I’ve only seen the red and orange ones. How did you get him?” asked the Volataur curiously.

“Funny thing really. I was out looking for an electro stone, but got Igniz as a treasured friend instead.” replied Smoke proudly.

Rudel whistled loudly. “Earth Manipulation, Flight, Wisdom, and a trusty dark ember sprite. I knew you were the special person I was looking for.”

“Huh? What do you mean?” asked Smoke .

“I’ll let you speak with Deropa, and he’ll tell you all the details.” said Rudel.

“Alright. I have a couple of questions, but I’ll save them for later when I meet your elder.”

After an hour of flying, they finally saw the Centaur’s village. Pferde stuck out like a sore thumb. Only the village and the muddy roads that came out of it broke the lush green fields around Pferde.

The village’s circular stone wall had a land area five times the size of Nanahuatl. The village consisted mostly of wooden houses but had three pristine marble towers spread around the village which formed into a triangle.

In between the houses, animal pens of cows, sheep, pigs, and chickens scattered throughout the entire village.

Rudel pointed to where they should land. The Volataur’s white wings folded neatly on his sides. Smoke watched as he swooped down at an alarming speed. As he reached the five-meters from the ground Rudel’s wings expanded, and gave him a soft landing.

Smoke grinned at Rudel’s landing. It was extremely similar to how he landed except that when Smoke landed he could stun the enemies near his landing area.

Earlier, Smoke thought about his Stunning Landing ability and improved it. He thought he would show off a little and used it here.

With Igniz orbiting around him rapidly, his body was engulfed in dark purple flames. He became like a crashing comet and landed hard on the ground.


Molten rocks flew everywhere. He called this new ability, Comet Crush.

He saw Rudel reflexively turn around after he landed. Rudel looked at his landing site. His Comet Crush ability startled the Volataur.

“Do you always land like that?” Rudel asked.

“No, not really. I just wanted to give a great first impression to Pferde’s residents.” Smoke smiled broadly.

As they stepped inside Pferde village, The Volataur asked Smoke a question.

“Wouldn’t your men feel better if they joined us? Instead of lurking from the shadows?”

“My men?” Smoke asked. To his surprise, Rudel casually pointed to his men’s hiding spot.

Ichaival and Espion maintained a distance of one kilometer from Smoke. Yet, the Volataur still sensed their hidden presence, in a patch of forest east of Pferde village.

“Alright, you got me. I didn’t mean anything bad by it, but I prefer if they stayed out of the village for now.”

Rudel nodded his head in affirmation.

“I understand and respect that. There’s no harm in being extra careful. Which is why I’m asking you to undergo a casting circle of truth test for me.”

“Sure, go ahead. I’ve got nothing to hide.”

As he stepped inside the village, a notification message popped up.

 + Entered The Centaur Village of Pferde

    Wysteria Continent’s most populated Centaur community. It has existed for over 2,000 years.
    Pferde survived through many tragic events. This village currently has a population of 4,102.

    [STATUS: Plagued 100%]

After Smoke read the notification message, he became aware that he became the village attraction. Most of the Villagers have never seen a DarkElf. The Centaur children looked pale and sickly. They hid behind their parents and pointed at him with curiosity and fear.

Smoke tried his best to put on a pleasant face. He endured the urge to cover his face with the specialized gas mask. The strong stench troubled him, but he wanted them to see his good intentions and that he was not a threat to them.

Some of the frail Centaur children smiled back, but the healthier kids only held onto their parents more tightly. His forced smile crept them out.

Smoke and Rudel walked on the muddy roads towards Deropa’s house. The children’s frightened faces made him realize that his Comet Crush stunt earlier frightened them. He hit his face with his palm and followed after Rudel.

As they traveled across the village, Smoke carefully studied the village. The filth from the various animal pens flowed out to the main roads of Pferde.

‘The road’s so muddy from all the excrement, and they even take the mud into their homes with their hooves. They should build proper canals for their animal pens and stone roads that could handle their hard hooves.’

Next, Smoke noticed the Centaur’s garbage and waste carelessly scattered beside their houses. He even spotted some that also reached the main roads.

The Centaur’s garbage stank the village so much that Smoke thought they should change their village name to junked instead of Pferde.

He also noticed that there were few combatants in Pferde. He wondered where the rest of Pferde’s Centaur Warriors were. He was about to ask Rudel when he caught the Volataur watching him with a strange expression.

“What’s wrong? Is something bothering you?” Rudel asked.

Smoke thought it best to keep his observations to himself and answered with, “I’m just not used to all this attention.”

After a few more steps, and Smoke’s curiosity got to him. He couldn’t help but ask his question.

“By the way, I noticed that there were only a few guards at the entrance and I don’t see anyone that looks like a fighter in the village.”

“You’re wondering where our military are, right?” Rudel answered. “I’d like you to know that we are mainly Herders. So, we have little military power. But to be honest, I don’t know myself. Out of our 300 military forces, we scattered 100 Centaurs to search for a remedy for our village, but none of them have returned…”

Smoke thought about the mutated Centaurs and the ones that had met with the Condortlian scouts. He wondered if he should tell Rudel about them.

For the next twenty minutes, they walked on silently until they finally reached the biggest wooden establishment in all of Pferde, home of Elder Deropa.

Before he could enter the house a notification window popped up.

+ Your High Poison Resistance has protected you from getting Plagued.

Although it was his first time seeing the message, he pushed it aside as Rudel walked in the house and called him to follow.

As they waited inside, an elderly brown Volataur came out from one of the rooms. He walked with a long staff to support his weight. His entire horse half including his feathered wings had a brown color. Yet, Deropa’s hair and his beard turned white with old age.

Smoke watched Deropa walking slowly with his cane towards him. The elderly Volataur then said. “So, this is the DarkElf that has caught my grandson’s attention.”

“Nice to meet you, Elder Deropa. I’ve come to your village as a friend and hope to leave as your blood brother.”

“Bold words for such a young man. Very well. Kindly step into the casting circle of truth.”

Deropa asked Smoke with only one question.

“Will you sacrifice a friend if it means that you get to kill your enemy?”

Smoke stood in a daze when he heard the elderly Volataur’s question. Inside the casting circle of truth, he knew that he couldn’t lie.

When Smoke heard Deropa’s question, he reflexively thought of Tristan as the enemy. However, he knew that if he told the truth, the Centaurs would want nothing to do with him.

Troubled, Smoke thought of Seth and Donny as the friends that he would need to sacrifice. After he finalized his mental image, Smoke answered. “No!”

To his relief, the casting circle of truth lit up with a green light. Rudel walked over to Smoke and congratulated him. Deropa then called for the DarkElf.

“Smoke, your answer has impressed me. I think you truly are the person I’ve been looking for.”

Smoke bowed down. With his face concealed, he made a victorious grin. He faced Deropa and said.

“If it’s within my power, then I’d be glad to help. What seems to be troubling you?”

The old Volataur spread his brown feathered wings, but it couldn’t reach its maximum wingspan.

“My body doesn’t respond to me anymore. It was only when my health declined that I noticed how unhealthy Pferde has become.”

With his staff as support, Deropa slowly walked over to his table which held stacks of books, pieces of precious gems and unidentifiable animal bones.

“I know that you must think we’re stupid. Letting all of this garbage surround us.” Deropa said as he went through his stacks of books.

He picked out a brown leather book entitled ‘Ancient History of the Pferde Centaurs by Ineptus’ and gave it to Smoke.

“Here, read this. It was written by a Simiavulg. I detested its contents, but over the years I finally accepted them as truth.”

A blue progress bar went up as Smoke acquired the book’s knowledge.

+ Ancient History of the Pferde Centaurs by Ineptus

    The Centaurs of Pferde were originally Nomads and cared nothing for nature. They used to move herds of sheep around the Weiden plains and allowed them to graze anywhere, but it got harder to move around as their people increased their numbers.

    A Volataur named Albern decided that they would stop being Nomads and created Pferde Village. His intentions were good, but he didn’t think about Pferde’s future generations.

    They continued on as before and carelessly threw their garbage anywhere in their village. The children grew up and thought that this was normal.

    I fear for Pferde’s future…

“It’s tactless, but it’s the truth. We grew up with such filth around us that we didn’t know any better.” Deropa said. “I’m a failure as a leader. I don’t know what to do to save this village.”

Rudel interjected. “But you did send out our troops to search for a remedy.”

“Ha! What good did that do? I should have followed the signs and waited.”

Smoke watched as Deropa took the precious gems and animal bones and them all into a bowl and breathed into it.

“Just like before. I had asked the oracle of Verlassene for guidance, and it told me that a stranger would come and help Pferde of its afflictions. Will you be Pferde’s savior?”

+ Quest: Improve Pferde Village
    Improvement Quest
    Level: C

    With its expanded population, Pferde has become sickly and filthy. Improve the resident’s health and the Pferde itself.

    Accept the Quest? [YES/NO]

The inner Smoke jumped up and down. ‘Yes! This is what I was hoping for.’ He smiled and replied. “Yes.”

Smoke wondered about the quest’s C level. He thought it should have been higher, but he pushed the idea to the back of his mind when another notification message popped up.

+ Intimacy with Deropa and Rudel has risen to ‘Trusted Friend’

You have gained the Volataurs’ trust by agreeing to help their village.
You can expect that Deropa and Rudel will help you out, occasionally.

After he read the notification message. He knew that he could safely call Ichaival and Espion to join him inside Pferde. He needed the two of them to help out with his Pferde rehabilitation plan.

As he walked out of Deropa’s hut, Smoke thought of three steps for his Pferde Rehabilitation plan.

Step one involved creating closed canals, proper roads and putting some nature back into the village. Step two involved clearing out the waste and garbage littered all over Pferde. Finally, step three involved creating a proper disposal system for the village.

While waiting for his allies, he thought he could start step one on his own. He used his Earth Manipulation ability to try and harden the muddy roads.

However, the ground did not respond to Smoke’s will.

– Cannot control this Earth with your current level of your Earth Manipulation ability.
– Cannot control this Earth with your current level of Earth Affinity.

‘Not again! The land around Margome must be really old.’

“If you’re trying to use Earth Manipulation here, then forget about it.” Rudel said. “Even Deropa can’t control the lands around Pferde.”

“Uh huh, I see.” said Smoke and nodded.

Smoke remembered that Laernea and Gandiva trained their Beast Tamer ability to Advance Level 1 just recently. So, he used his Knowledge Bank’s ability and searched for a specific monster to help him with step two.

‘I need a monster that has enormous strength, susceptible to taming, and has the Coprohagus ability, the ability to eat waste.’

Search Filters:
  * Ability: Coprohagus
  * Susceptibility: Taming
  * Location: Wysteria Continent, Margome Mountain Range.

Search Results: [3] Matches Found!

Durcules Beetle
– A heavy armored monster with a body length of two and a half meters.
Life: Average
Strength: Great

Horsei Fly
– A fast and dangerous monster with a body length of half a meter.
Life: Low

Madus Bull
– A powerful bovine monster with a body length of four meters.
Life: High
Strength: Excellent

Smoke smirked. It took him months to acquire all the knowledge of the book series entitled ‘Known Monsters on Wysteria’. It comprised a total of 126 volumes.

With his choices, he couldn’t decide between the Durcules Beetle and the Madus Bull. The Horsei Fly was out of the question, given its small size and strength.

Smoke and Rudel headed outside of the village to greet Ichaival and Espion. An idea came to his mind as they waited besides the rustic wooden poles of the village entrance.

“You must need to practice Earth Manipulation, right? Where do you practice that exactly?” Smoke asked.

“Well, it’s near the foot of Mount Yunggo. The mountain that divides Pferde and the Simiavulg village of Saruras.”

Smoke opened his map window and showed it to Rudel.

“Can you update my map for me? I’d like to visit that place.”

“Sure, no problem.”

Minutes later, Ichaival and Espion arrived. Smoke noticed their apprehensive faces as they watched Rudel.

“Guys, it’s okay. We’re all friends here.” Smoke said convincingly.

“Okay, if you say so.” Ichaival replied with a hesitant voice.

Their pleasant reunion took a strange turn when Smoke got caught off guard by Espion’s question.

“And I’m guessing you told them about your hidden Job as well?” Espion asked.

Smoke realized that Espion wanted to test his integrity. A process to check if he was under a spell or an ability. He told them to follow this procedure if one of them gets taken in by the enemy, but he never thought Espion would use it on him.

He hurriedly rushed towards the young Spy and held his hands over Espion’s mouth.

“Espion, buddy. No, need to go there. That topic didn’t come up and I don’t think Rudel would be interested in it.”

“I am interested, but I don’t want to force you if you don’t want to tell me.” Rudel replied.

“Alright, now about that quest. Ichaival, Espion, we’ve got a long walk ahead of us. So, we better get going now. Thanks again, Rudel.”

Smoke hurriedly pulled Ichaival and Espion towards Mount Yunggo. Igniz orbited around Rudel and bade him goodbye. The two of them bonded since their flight to Pferde.

* * * * * * 

They walked for an hour from Pferde and waited for Laernea to arrive with Smoke’s requested supplies. It would have taken them a week if they walked the entire way to Mount Yunggo.

As soon as Laernea arrived, she jumped off her carriage and threw her arms around Smoke. However, she grabbed nothing but air.

Using his high Agility and Dodge Rate, Smoke easily evaded Laernea’s hug attack.

“Omf. Hey, why didn’t you stand still?” The Lioumerean grumbled.

Smoke helped her up.

“Stop joking around, Laernea. We’ve got to hurry…” Smoke stopped mid sentence when he noticed Adder sitting behind Laernea’s carriage.

“Hey, how are you? You look good. How’s the new arm?”

He watched as Adder raised his left arm. It looked completely normal.

“I’ve been training hard for the last three days, and I’ve got no complaints so far.” Replied the Condortlian.

A large green and black tower shield caught Smoke’s attention. Its thick, blunt edges and a protruded, rounded, black sphere as its center made it look heavy.

“Hmm, is this new?” Smoked picked up the tower shield but couldn’t lift it.

– Cannot use this Tower Shield with your current Strength.

After Smoke read the notification message, he settled with merely examining its attributes instead.

Condortl’s Emerald Tower Shield
 A legendary shield from the treasury of Condortl. It is made with two materials, emerald and obsidian. An emblem of a griffon is embossed on the shield

  +5000 Defense
  +100 Vitality

    * Can only be used by Warrior variations
    * Level 100
    * Strength : 600

  Equipment Ability:
    *Emerald Bash (Active)
      + Stuns the enemy for three seconds
      + Consumes 500 mp/use
      + Once you’ve used this ability you cannot use it again for another two minutes.
    *Obsidian Imbalance (Active)
      + Creates openings by breaking other shields
      + Consumes 500 mp/use
      note: Only works on other forms of defenses (shields, armors, etc…)
    *Emeridian Slash (Active)
      + Creates openings by breaking enemy’s defenses
      + Consumes 5,000 mp/use

“Whew!” Smoke whistled in disbelief. “This thing is heavy, and you can really use this in an actual battle?”
Without a word, Adder easily carried the emerald tower shield with his newly regained arm. The Condortlian looked at Smoke and said. “So, where to?”

* * * * * * 

With Smoke and his men riding on the back of Laernea’s carriage and Rudel flying in the sky, they arrived at their destination in six hours. Laernea’s stag moose, Bilis, ran at its new top speed of 280 kph.

Smoke wondered if his gliding ability could someday match Rudel’s flight speed, but his thoughts of flying vanished after the tall mountain came into view.

Mount Yunggo’s towering height of 5,200 meters casted a dark shadow over Smoke and his men as it blocked the afternoon sun. Dark green Eucalyptus Regnan trees stood at a height from ten to twenty-six meters, spread sparsely all throughout the mountain.

Yet, despite the trees, a noxious smell brought tears to their eyes as they caught its stench. From where they stood, they could see the piles of monster bones and carcasses stacked on top of each other.

These monsters’ Coprohagus ability gave them an edge over the other monsters in the area. Whereas some monsters restricted themselves to only eat the fresh meat of a recently killed creature, these monsters preferred their food to be decayed and pungent.

The Coprohagus ability had one more unique feature. During day time it decreased their life and defense by half, but at night, it doubled the monster’s attack.

Due to this fact, monsters with the Coprohagus ability mainly became scavengers during the day, and only transformed into predators at night.

    – Entered the Mount Yunggo

      – Monsters inside this mountain are constantly fighting for supremacy.
      – Suggested level for entering this mountain is 150.

Smoke paid little attention to the message notification because he worried more about the time. They only had thirty minutes of daylight left. Using his Telefax Vision, Smoke detected six black armored monsters running away from something.

The monsters had a body length ranging from one-and-half-meters to three-meters. Aside from their hard exoskeleton, the monsters also had black steel horns on top of their heads with a length of half a meter.

He recognized these black monsters to be durcules beetles. Two mature durcules beetles at a length of two-and-half-meters led the way as the four smaller durcules beetles followed them.

Smoke watched the family of durcules beetles as they ran from a six meter long monster with sharp spikes that stuck out from its back. The unknown monster had a golden brown color and ran on all fours.

He quickly grabbed this chance and immediately ordered his men to run after the monsters.

The DarkElf curiously observed the situation. One of the mature durcules beetle separated from its family while the rest of them kept on running in a straight line.

The durcules beetles picked up their pace and gave the spiky monster a challenging chase, while the other durcules beetle suddenly appeared behind their pursuer.

The durcules beetle had its long black horn aimed at the war echidna. The spiky monster remained focused on the durcules beetles in front of it that it didn’t noticed the mature durcules beetle’s back attack.

The spiky monster’s life bar and name appeared. war echidna (168,010/180,000 HP).

‘The durcules beetle has pretty decent damage considering it isn’t at its full strength.’ Smoke thought, and his men remained some distance from the monsters as they ran after them.

The war echidna came to a full stop. With unbelievable flexibility, it twisted its body and came face to face with the durcules beetle that attacked it.

The spiky monster lifted its left paw, and revealed sharp claws, which sank right through the durcules bettle’s exoskeleton. Four more attacks and the durcules beetle’s head came right off.

As the head of the durcules beetle rolled on the ground, fire arrows struck through the war echidna’s back. The fire arrows were added to its already spiky back.

The war echidna cried out in pain as it received a total damage of 75,000 points. It turned around, but Smoke had already anticipated this.

Before Smoke, Ichaival, and Laernea even released their arrows, Smoke ordered Adder and Espion to run straight for the war echidna.

Adder struck the war echidna with his emerald tower shield. It damaged and stunned the monster for 10,000 points and five seconds respectively.

Espion ran past the war echidna and drove his green dual knives into the monster’s back. Rudel came down from the sky with his bastard sword, and plunged it deep into the monster’s skull.

Another round of fire arrows powered by Igniz came from Smoke, Ichaival, and Laernea. Their combined attack instantly finished the monster off.

+ Your party has dealt a fatal blow to the war echidna.
+ Your party has killed the war echidna.
+ Your party has gained 180,000 exp.

Smoke reminded himself. ‘We may have defeated this monster instantly, but it took all six of us to kill the beast.’ He made sure to always be grounded. He did not want instant kills get to his head.

Smoke turned around as Rudel tapped him on his shoulder. The Volataur spoke in a hushed voice.

“That was impressive. I usually bring at least thirty Centaurs with me whenever I go into Mount Yunggo. I thought we were only gonna stay outside.”

With his Cunning of the Dire Fox Smoke sensed the presence of twenty monsters within a 600 meter radius. Being always vigilant, he took precautions.

“Alright!. Guys, let’s collect the loot and we’ll head out while we still have sunlight.”

He ordered his team to retreat, but stopped when they spotted the family of durcules beetles returning to site of their fallen family member. The five monsters laid down beside the dead durcules beetle.

Smoke couldn’t let this opportunity pass him by. He instantly changed his orders. Instead of searching for safer grounds, he switched it to defend the area around Laernea while she used her Pathfinder ability called Beast Tamer to control the five remaining durcules beetles.

He kept turning his head as he checked for monsters and watched as Laernea went straight for the mature durcules beetle. With her two hands stretched out, he heard Laernea utter out taming chants which made the large durcules beetle docile.

As Laernea’s hand touched the mature durcules beetle she called out. “Oh! She’s the mother of these small durcules beetles.” She touched the four smaller monsters and tamed them with her ability as well.

After Smoke saw Laernea’s “Go” signal, they resumed their retreat out of the mountains. As they went down, Smoke sensed that the monsters from earlier were slowly closing in on them.

The family of durcules beetles dutifully followed Laernea’s commands as she led them down while she rode on Bilis’ bare back.

Smoke’s fears came true. Night time came and made the mountain dark. They were still inside Mount Yunggo’s territory. To make matters worst, the monsters that Smoke sensed earlier appeared.

The sparsely scattered dark green Eucalyptus Regnan trees gave the monsters enough cover to hide but ample space to hunt down its prey.

Four war echidnas surrounded them. Both the groups of Adder and Ichaival, Espion and Rudel faced one war echidna, while Smoke had Laernea and the five durcules beetles against two of the spiky monsters.

The DarkElf switched weapons to his weighted chain and sickle, and dashed in front of the durcules beetles. He didn’t want their newly tamed monsters to be killed off right after he obtained them.

Faced with the two war echidnas, he held the sickle’s end by the chains and threw it at the war echidna on his left. Right after he threw the sickle the war echidna on his right slashed him with its long black claws.

Simultaneously, Igniz shot out his fireballs at Smoke’s target and kept the war echidna on the left momentarily at bay.

The monster on Smoke’s right clawed him four times, and he managed to dodge three of the monster’s attacks. Smoke’s life bar appeared (143,920/165,850 HP), after he took the war echidna’s claws to his chest.

He feared that the war echidna on his left would recover from Igniz’s attacks and gang up on him, so he used his lunar boots and leapt upwards. He pulled the chains from his weapon, and while in midair, he sent it crashing down on the war echidna’s temple.

Igniz’s fireballs never ceased, not until the untouched war echidna went after the dark ember sprite. Igniz dodged the monster’s claws by flying out of its reach. Smoke sensed that Igniz was in trouble, and his attention shifted towards his symbiote.

The war echidna clawed its way up on a Eucalyptus Rengan tree and was about to jump at Igniz when two of the smaller durcules beetles came and tackled the war echidna in mid jump.

Even in the dimmed light, Smoke clearly noticed the changes in the durcules beetles. The armored monsters’ grew wings which allowed them to fly. Their black exoskeletons now had sharp steel like spikes which made puncture wounds on the war echidna.

Then, the two durcules beetles plunged their sword like horns into the war echidna’s stomach. As the beast plummeted down, the two durcules beetles repeatedly stabbed the war echidna until they killed it.

Everything happened in a flash. Smoke still gliding in midair dove down and stunned the war echidna as he landed. Before he could attack, two durcules beetles flew past him and stabbed their black horns into the war echidna’s belly.

‘These little guys must be pissed about their father’s death.’

Smoke leapt high up, over the war echidna. He expertly landed on the monster’s shoulders. With his weighted chain and sickle, he repeatedly hacked the back of the monster’s neck.

“Laernea, tell the durcules beetles to cut right through the monster’s neck.” Smoke yelled.

The lioness Lioumerean repeated the orders to the durcules beetles, and the monsters immediately followed it. The durcules beetles unhinged their black steel horns from the war echidna’s stomach and sliced right through the beast’s throat.

The war echidna’s head slowly separated from its body and rolled on the ground. Although it was a different war echidna, but Smoke still felt the satisfaction from the durcules beetles.

With the defeat of the two war echidnas, Smoke checked on his other teammates. He saw that the other durcules beetles helped out and performed similar actions.

All four war echidnas died. They hastily collected the war echidna’s spiky carcass and claws. Afterwards, they speedily exited Mount Yunggo.

At the foot of the mountain, Smoke asked his men to relax and prepare some medicinal meal for their entire party. Now, that he had his targeted monsters tamed, it signaled for the next phase of his plan.

As his men rested, Smoke used his Earth Manipulation and began collecting the soil at the foot of Mount Yunggo. While he worked, he noticed Rudel walking towards him.

“Need some help?” The Volataur asked.

“Sure, I added in extensions on Bilis’ carriage, increasing its maximum capacity.”

Smoke pointed at the partially filled wooden carriage that looked similar to a big dump truck. Rudel used his own Earth Manipulation ability and silently filled the carriage.

In less than an hour, Smoke and Rudel collected six tons worth of dirt. Laernea’s stag moose, Bilis, made complaining noises after they closed up the modified carriage.

Laernea asked Bilis to try and move the filled carriage. Somehow, the stag moose managed to move the six ton load, but at a significantly slower speed.

‘At this rate it’ll probably take us a week to get back to Pferde.’

Smoke gradually unloaded the soil from Bilis’ carriage. He searched for the optimal weight to speed ratio. At the reduced weight of two tons, Bilis managed to run at a speed of 60 kph.

‘Two tons won’t be enough to cover the entire village.’

He weighed his options. He could either have Laernea drive back and forth or settle with two tons. As he toyed with his choices, he shifted the two tons of the controllable soil back and forth.

Then it came to him. ‘I’ll just shift this soil all the way back to Pferde.’

Smoke used his Earth Manipulation ability and collected the two ton soil. He pictured how the waves moved to the beach and made the soil follow that motion.

His soil wave moved at a speed of 40 kph. He did some rough calculation in his head, and he concluded that he could keep shifting the soil forward for the next thirty minutes before taking a break.

He loaded one more ton of soil back to Bilis’ modified carriage. This gave the stag moose a restricted speed of 40 kph.

After Smoke’s experimentation on his Earth Manipulation ability ended, he called the rest of his party. He had them and the durcules beetles stand on the controllable soil.

Igniz flew around Smoke’s party. He tried to warn them about what was going to happen next. Smoke watched their confused faces before he suddenly shifted the soil forward. Except for Adder, all of them fell down on the soil as it jolted forward.

Rudel flew on ahead while Smoke and his men prepared for a two day journey back to Pferde on his soil wave.

* * * * * * 
An uneventful two days went by. Smoke and his party successfully arrived in Pferde. The moment they came into view, the Centaurs banged their pots and pans and welcomed them loudly as heroes. Half of the villagers waited for their arrival.

Rudel, who arrived two days earlier, sang praises of their battle on Mount Yunggo. The Centaurs couldn’t believe that Smoke entered the mountain with only a six man team.

The villagers’ admiration of Smoke grew as they watched him control his moving soil wave. He stood at the center of the moving sands with his hands stretched out while his men sat closely beside him.

Smoke tried his best not to mind Laernea’s gaze as she kept on staring over in his direction. As they got closer, Smoke and his party felt they had gone deaf because of the Centaurs’ welcome commotion. The villagers became silent when Smoke and his men stood in front of the village chief.

Deropa spoke to the residents. “Everyone, Smoke has come to cleanse our village of this sickness that has plagued our village.”

The DarkElf stood beside Deropa and waved at the crowd.

“I promised to help improve Pferde, but this won’t be done instantly. We need to have some major changes in order for my plan to work. I look forward to working with all of you.”

The villagers of Pferde instantly changed their demeanor. They became silent and indifferent. Smoke was stunned by their reaction. He hoped for a more energetic response than this.

Deropa took over and addressed the crowd. “That’s it for now, people. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me or Rudel.”

Smoke watched the uncomfortable faces of the residents as they dispersed silently. Deropa spoke with him in a low tone. “If you haven’t already guessed? Change is a difficult thing for us Centaurs. I hope you understand?”

He nodded and immediately went to work. He decided to start at a small portion of the village. He asked Laernea to send her durcules beetles out to feed on the garbage and wastes littered in the street.

As Laernea left, a young eleven year old Volataur boy came to Smoke. The young Volataur’s horse half had the same brown color as Deropa’s.

“Hi, my name’s Neffe.”

“Oh, hi, Neffe. Nice to meet you.” Smoke stretched out his hand for a handshake. “Can I help you with something?”

“Actually, I’m here to ask you that same question.”

“Hmm… Why don’t you help out that female Lioumerean with the durcules beetles? I’m sure she’d welcome your help.”

Neffe nodded and went on his way. Smoke gave out a satisfied smile. Even if there were residents of Pferde who couldn’t handle the change, he still built high intimacies with the three Volataurs of Pferde.

Afterwards, Smoke asked Rudel to make preparations for a feast for the residents of the village. He told him that he would have a small banquet prepared for them after they finished their project.

He then asked Ichaival and Espion to prepare the detoxification meal that could feed 4,000 people. He taught them the meal on their soil wave ride to Pferde. He learned this recipe from one of the books he got inside the labyrinth.

As his men worked, Smoke began to manipulate the controllable soil. He turned the soil into a thin, hard hexagonal shape and assembled them into pavements.

He stretched the usage of the controllable soil as much as he could. The road now looked like a honey bee’s screen board because of its hexagonal shape.

Smoke then made gardens beside the public roads and asked Adder to plant toxin neutralizing trees in them. With those two tasks finished, he started on the closed canals.

He used his Digger’s Wand’s Trenching ability and created a small canal. He connected it to the various animal pens in his targeted area and had them exit to the various gardens beside the roads.

They tirelessly worked for the next three days. During this time, he observed everyone’s progress. Laernea and Neffe’s work with the durcules beetles became an instant success with the residents.

Smoke saw how Ichaival and Espion already gained friends as they traveled around the area gathering the ingredients for detoxification meal that could feed the entire population of Pferde.

At the same time, the two of them also talked about the dangerous health risks that the filth and the garbage caused the residents.

With the help of monsters’ Coprohagus ability, both Laernea and Neffe cleared out all the waste and garbage in the targeted area within the span of three days.

Smoke watched their progress with satisfaction, but he was especially happy for his first private army member, Adder. He smiled as he watched Adder plant the trees and the flowers in the garden by the road. Adder clearly enjoyed working with both his hands as he designed the road side gardens.

Currently, one fourth of Pferde looked like a an eco friendly village. As the third day came to a close, Smoke asked the residents of the village to join them for a feast.

When Smoke heard that Rudel couldn’t bring enough tables to hold the residents in the area, Smoke made it into a standing feast.

In this manner Deropa, Rudel, and the residents of the area got to mingle with each other. They also witnessed the early changes in their village.

As they ate the detoxification meal that Adder, Ichaival, and Espion prepared, the residents of Pferde slowly felt better and stronger. Smoke and his men also explained to the residents the reason why they got sick and what they should do to prevent it.

Smoke asked them for volunteers who would want to help maintain the health of Pferde by collecting the trash or walking the durcules beetles. He also taught them about proper waste disposal for their animal’s excrement.

The Centaurs’ immediate recovery from their plagued status inspired a small group of Centaurs to raise their hands.

Suddenly, a notification window popped up.

+ Quest Update: Improve Pferde Village

  [STATUS: Plagued 75%]

Smoke smirked. It only took him three days to reduce the village’s plagued status by 25%, but their celebration was cut short when Pferde’s alarm went off!

* * * * * * 

Smoke, Igniz and Rudel immediately went up to the skies and flew towards the sound of the alarm. Smoke couldn’t describe Rudel’s face when he saw a platoon of fifty mutated Centaurs.

The monsters came and attacked the opposite side of the village. They broke through the village walls and slaughtered their own kin, the monsters did not even spare the women and children. The normal Centaurs stood no chance against the mutated Centaurs’ surprise attack.

From the sky, Smoke saw a smaller group clustered behind the mutated Centaur’s platoon. With his Telefax Vision, Smoke zoomed in and saw two Tikbalangs guarding a single Witch.

The Tikbalangs had red eyes and gnashing teeth. Sharp black spines grew out of its head and served as its mane. The Tikbalang’s lengthy horse hoof limbs gave the monster a hunched appearance. It’s muscular human-like legs looked strong but not fast.

Within the chaos, Smoke noticed a mutated Centaur severing the dead Centaur’s in half. The monster separated the Human and horse halves of the dead Centaur.

The mutated Centaur collected ten Human upper bodies and ran towards the Witch. Five dead Centaurs on each of the monster’s massive arms.

As the mutated Centaur got closer to the Witch, Smoke noticed that the Witch stood at the center of a large casting circle made out of black blood.

When the mutated Centaur got inside the casting circle, the Witch began some weird movements and released a black ball of miasma from her hands. The black ball flew directly above her.

A dome of black blood sprang out from the casting circle and closed in on the floating black ball. Eventually, the dome of black blood enveloped the Witch and the mutated Centaur.

Red lightning randomly sparked out from the black dome. A few seconds later, the dome receded into the black ball of miasma which dropped down back to the Witch.

Instead of a mutated Centaur, Smoke saw a newly created Tikbalang standing together with the Witch.

Still gliding in midair, Smoke racked his brain for answers. He couldn’t think of a strategy to handle forty-nine mutated Centaurs, three Tikbalangs, and a Witch with unknown powers.

Then, Smoke heard Adder and his private army members accompanied by Pferde’s remaining 200 military forces on the ground. He saw them engage the forty-nine mutated Centaurs.

Night time came, and the yellow moon slowly rose from the west. Laernea’s five durcules beetles transformed into their predator state and attacked the mutated Centaurs.

Laernea helped the durcules beetles by attacking the same targets with her Long Bow and fire arrows. Adder charged to the front and met the mutated Centaurs with his emerald tower shield and double bladed Blitzsturm. Ichaival and Espion followed closely behind the Condortlian and supported him from all sides.

Everything changed when the reinforcements arrived. Smoke opened their party channel which contained Adder, Ichaival, Espion, Laernea and Rudel. He quickly spoke with his teammates and told them the strategy.

He ordered Laernea to stay behind and help out the normal Centaurs against their mutated kin. Adder, Ichaival, and Espion would push forward and aim for the three Tikbalangs, while Rudel would wait for Smoke’s signal before he would grab the Witch and take her away from her Tikbalang guardians.

Smoke, Igniz, and Rudel waited for Adder, Ichaival, and Espion to get into position before he gave out the command. “GO!” Smoke yelled.

The DarkElf closed the wings of his cloak and instantly dove down with Igniz. He had his symbiote orbit around him rapidly, his body was engulfed in dark purple flames and became a crashing comet.


He aimed for the center of the three Tikbalangs and landed on the newly created monster. Molten rocks flew in all directions. All the Tikbalangs were stunned for five seconds. two monsters were blown away by Smoke’s Comet Crush ability.

The newly created Tikbalang he crushed with his landing displayed its life bar (75,000/250,000 HP). Smoke’s Beast Monarch ability tripled his damage on the monster.

Equipped with his weighted chain and sickle, Smoke dropped his heavy iron ball over the stunned Tikbalang’s face and finished the monster off.

He left the rest of the stunned Tikbalangs to Adder, Ichaival, and Espion. He went directly after the Witch. He used his Lunar Boot’s increased speed to dash forward towards the Witch.

Smoke’s Comet Crush ability distracted the Witch. Simultaneously, Rudel flew behind her and grabbed the Witch away from her Tikbalang guardians.

They had flown five-hundred-meters away from the Tikbalangs, when the Witch struck Rudel’s face. The Volataur released the Witch in midair and she fell down, but she created an earth pillar to catch her.

‘What?! She could manipulate the land in this area?’ Smoke wondered how high her Earth Affinity and Earth Manipulation was.

* * * * * * 

Adder, Ichaival, and Espion arrived in front of the stunned Tikbalangs. They immediately went after the first Tikbalang on the ground.

Unfortunately, the Tikbalang regained consciousness. The monster immediately stood up and displayed its life bar shown over its head (230,299/400,000 HP).

Even against the intimidating Tikbalang, Adder did not stop his charge. He leapt up and dove back down with his emerald tower shield in front of him, but the Tikbalang easily evaded the Condortlian’s attack.

The monster used its lengthy horse fists and attacked Adder. Expertly, Adder brought his emerald tower shield in front of the Tikbalang’s path.

Despite the defense of his heavy tower shield, Adder flew three meters back. After he received the Tikbalang’s attack. Ichaival gave Adder cover fire as he relentlessly attacked the Tikbalang with his poison and fire arrows.

Espion ran to the sides of the Tikbalang and attacked the monster with his throwing daggers. He was aiming for the Tikbalang’s back.

The young Spy was so focused on the Tikbalang in front of him that he didn’t notice the other Tikbalang behind him. He was about to be hit when four adolescent durcules beetles came out from the sides and rammed the monster with their black horns.

Thankfully, Laernea’s hard headed nature saved Espion. She ordered her durcules beetles to attack the second Tikbalang.

The Tikbalang cried out in pain as its life bar displayed (152,073/400,000 HP). The monster raised his hooves up into the air and aimed for the durcules beetles still plunged to its body.

As the monster’s hooves came down, the mother durcules beetle flew in front of her child and took the Tikbalang’s attack to her head.

The mother durcules beetle’s horn broke off, but the Tikbalang did not stop. It held the adult durcules beetle with one of its hooves and kept on attacking her head.

Laernea attacked the Tikbalang with her fire arrows, but it had no effect on the monster. Espion got on the Tikbalang’s back and stabbed its shoulders with his green dual knives. His knives’ Paralysis ability, slowed the Tikbalang’s attack.

However, Espion was too late. The Tikbalang managed one more attack on the durcules’ head and it fell off.

The Spy yelled out as it mercilessly stabbed the Tikbalang’s back. Laernea broke down in tears as she kept on attacking with her fire arrows.

The adolescent durcules beetles repeatedly stabbed the Tikbalang and they finally killed the beast. Even as the Tikbalang laid down on the ground the durcules beetles kept on attacking the monster.

Laernea and Espion willed themselves to focus on the battle at hand. Adder was still in a bind. He tried his best to defend against the Tikbalang’s attack, but he could not get an attack in.

Only Ichaival’s arrows penetrated the monster. Yet even with Ichaival’s increased attack, the Tikbalang’s life bar still shown (150,299/400,000 HP).

With the Tikbalang focused on Adder, Espion stealthily sneaked up onto the Tikbalang’s back and began his paralysis specialty.

The Tikbalang tried to attack Espion with its hooves, but received Adder’s Emerald Bash instead. The stunned monster stood motionless as Smoke’s private army unleashed their attacks on the beast and killed it.

* * * * * * 

Smoke switched to his power chainsaw bow and attacked the Witch from a distance. The Witch kept on creating earth pillars to block the DarkElf’s line of sight.

‘Man, why can’t I control the ground here!’

Rudel flew in and out with his bastard sword, but was always met with an earth shield.

“Nyahahaha Nyak nyak nyak nyak.” The Witch laughed. “You two are very persistent. I could sense the Earth Manipulation ability in both of you. Yet, you can’t do anything with my defense. Nyak nyak nyak nyak.”

Smoke remained calm and focused on attacking the Witch, but a little psych-war always helped.

“Don’t worry. We’ll kill you soon enough. Just like how my men killed your precious Tikbalangs!”

Smoke watched as the Witch turned her attention to her precious Tikbalangs. Eight poison arrows damaged the witches sides and revealed her name and life bar. Witch of Wysteria: Terrabelle (561,025/600,000 HP).

This attack confirmed his suspicion. The Witch had enormous life, but also had terrible physical defense.

The Witch retaliated by launching several earth pikes at the DarkElf. Smoke easily avoided them with the aid of his Cunning of the Dire Fox, Agility of the Horned Rabbit, and 60% Earth affinity.

He could not control the land they were fighting on, but he could easily sense them. Terrabelle’s earth pikes attack left her wide open.

Rudel swiftly came down from the air and plunged his bastard sword into her stomach. Despite her sword wound, Terrabelle would not allow to go down easily.

The Volataur’s hooves sank deep into the ground as she softened and hardened the earth instantly. Rudel spread his wings and tried to fly away, but Terrabelle’s earth pikes pierced through them. Rudel’s life bar displayed (229,210/250,000 HP).

Smoke watched from afar as Rudel resolved himself to sacrifice his life for Terrabelle’s. Rudel held onto the Witch’s shoulders with his left hand while kept on stabbing the her stomach with his bastard sword on his right.

Each of Rudel’s attacks damaged the Witch for 5,000 points. Terrabelle’s life bar displayed (370,025/600,000 HP). The Witch released her hold on Rudel’s hooves and sent him flying with an earth pillar attack directly below his horse half’s stomach.

His crouched position hid his presence well. Smoke sneaked a peek and saw Rudel blown high into the air. Rudel opened his wings and stopped midair.

The Volataur smirked at the Witch. As her gaze went from him, high up in the air then down to the pain in her stomach. Rudel left his bastard sword lunged inside her.

While Terrabelle’s attention was on Rudel, Smoke silently crept closer to her. The moment he saw her in writhe pain from Rudel’s bastard sword, Smoke activated his weighted chain and sickle’s ability, Cyclone of Slaughter.

Smoke’s iron chain moved on its own. It created a steel vortex of continuous moving iron chains whipping and slashing Terrabelle.

“Aaaauuuggggk! Aaaauuugh! Owwwwccch!” Terrabelle cried out in pain, every time she received the weighted iron chain’s damage.

Smoke’s Cyclone of Slaughter finished its attack. The Witch’s life bar drained to (61,129/600,000 HP). Terrabelle patiently waited for the DarkElf’s attack to stop.

When Smoke’s weighted iron chain stopped moving, Terrabelle released a black ball of miasma five times larger than the one from before. The black miasma orb flew fast from her hands.

Terrabelle’s attack stopped directly on top of the mutated Centaurs and the normal Centaurs. The two sides were occupied battling each other.

As the Witch’s attack flew, Smoke simultaneously intertwined his weighted iron chain around her. He tightened the iron chains right after the black miasma orb stopped on top of the mutated Centaurs.

“Stop, DarkElf!” Terrabelle yelled out. “If you don’t want the mutated Centaurs to fully transform into Tikbalangs. After all, there’s still a way to save them!”

Smoke stopped his weighted iron chain’s constriction attack.

“You’re lying! You’re just buying time.” The DarkElf answered back.

“True. I could be lying, but are you willing to risk that chance? Do you think your flying friend wouldn’t want to save his people?”

Smoke saw that Rudel was listening in on their conversation intently. “So, how do we save them?”

“Set me free and I’ll revert the mutated Centaurs’ curse.”

Deep in his heart, he knew that Terrabelle was lying. Yet, he still had to consider Rudel’s opinion. He didn’t want to have a fall out with his future ally.

Smoke’s dilemma reflected on his face. Suddenly, Terrabelle launched two earth pillars from both the DarkElf’s sides and closed in to crush him.

He sensed the attack and dodged backwards. His evasive maneuver made the weighted iron chains increase Terrabelle’s constriction.

Smoke’s constriction attack made the Witch release her control over the black miasma orb. Black blood was released from the black orb and created a casting circle, with the mutated and normal Centaurs inside it.

The Centaurs caught inside the casting circle were oblivious to their surroundings. They fought on with their lives on the line.

After the casting circle was completed, a black dome rose from the ground. It originated from the black blood, which made the casting circle.

Smoke looked up. He saw Rudel flew faster than he had ever seen him fly before. The black dome was closing in on the black miasma orb.

The DarkElf’s tight constriction stunned Terrabelle and left her with 2% of her life bar remaining. He focused his attention on the zooming Volataur up in the sky.

Right before the black dome touched the black miasma orb, Rudel arrived. With his two hands clasped together, he attacked the black miasma orb from its stationed position.

The black orb flew straight up. Smoke smiled as he thought that Rudel had done it, but the black dome changed its shape and turned into an irregular form.

It continued on its course and enclosed Rudel and the rest of the Centaurs inside it.

“NOOOOOO!” Smoke shouted in horror.

Terrabelle regained consciousness. The iron chains restricted her movements, but she managed to release two small black orbs. which turned into crows. “Fly to my sisters, Horrabelle and Crucibelle, tell them to avenge… “

Smoke’s sickle came down on Terrabelle’s right eyeball and vanquished her.

+ Your party has dealt a fatal blow to the Witch of Wysteria: Terrabelle.
+ Your party killed the Witch of Wysteria: Terrabelle.
+ Your party gained 1,200,000 exp.

As the body of the Witch started to fade away, it left behind two items.

+ Acquired Quest Item for Immense Power of the Blood Moon:
> Witch of Wysteria:Terrabelle blood vial (1/1)
> Witch of Wysteria:Crucibelle blood vial (0/1)
> Witch of Wysteria:Horrabelle blood vial (0/1)

+ Acquired rare hand accessory: Horse Ring of Domination

Right after he collected his loot, Smoke leapt up and glided towards the irregularly shaped black dome of miasma. From up in the sky, he saw the dome begin to break.

A frightening sight greeted him when the black dome collapsed entirely. Rudel, the normal Centaurs, and the mutated Centaurs all disappeared.

In their place, twenty unconscious Tikbalangs laid down on the ground and a single monster that looked like a Tikbalang but it had two massive bat-like wings.

The winged Tikbalang was the first one to come to. Adder, Ichaival, Espion, Laernea, and the four adolescent durcules beetle gathered around Smoke as they prepared for their worst battle yet.

It stood at a full height of three-meters. The monster groggily walked over to the DarkElf. “Smoke, what happened? Did I save them?”

Smoke’s eyes widened in astonishment. “Rudel?”

“Yeah? What’s wrong? Do I have dirt on my face or something?” asked Rudel in his new monstrous appearance.

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